While the body-positive movement is far from over—see where it stands right now—it has given rise to more body-diverse branding, marketing, and products in the mainstream. This has included tons of extended-size launches from brands like Madewell, Fabletics, and Nike, which is indisputably awesome and, honestly, should be the standard, not the exception.
One new millennial lingerie brand, Pepper, is targeting a different underserved market: Their bras cater specifically to women with small cup sizes, ranging from size 32AA to 38B.
"Pepper was first inspired by my own experience growing up and noticing I didn't look like the people I saw on TV," says Jaclyn Fu, cofounder and CEO of Pepper. "There were these unattainable beauty standards that I was never going to be able to achieve, and I especially felt this every time I went bra shopping. When I walked into Victoria's Secret, it was expected that, just because I'm small, I'd want to wear a push-up bra. Society reinforces that being 'flat' is something to be ashamed of."
Not to mention, the things just don't fit: "Most bras are a disservice to women with small busts because they usually create a cup gap (when the cups are too big and you can't fill it)," says Fu. In fact, most bra companies design from a "standard" size, usually a 36C, and then scale that same design across different sizes, not taking into consideration the unique fit challenges and needs of different body types, she says.
So, in 2016, Fu teamed up with cofounder Lia Winograd to launch a Kickstarter for Pepper to manufacture their "All You" bra. In just 10 hours, they met their goal of raising $10,000. And in 13 days, they raised a whopping $47,000. They surveyed 841 of the women who backed the initiative and found that:
- 71 percent reported Victoria's Secret bras do not fit them.
- 85 percent of small-chested women who experience fit issues say cup gaps are the biggest problem.
- 63 percent who used traditional bra sizing methods got a "negative" bra size (meaning their bust measurement was smaller than their band size).
If you already feel a little self-conscious about your breast size, imagine being told that you're a negative size. Womp.
That's why Fu and Winograd created their All You bra specifically to eliminate common small-breast fit issues and provide natural lift with light padding—not an entire memory foam mattress' worth of cushion. It's currently available for purchase and immediate shipment in the U.S. in sizes 32AA, 32A, 32B, 34AA, 34A, 34B, 36AA, 36A, 36B, 38A, 38B in three colors (black, beige, and mint) for $49 at wearpepper.com. (If you're looking for the best sports bras for small boobs, we've got you covered too.)
"It's so important to start this conversation for this underserved market of women because every person and every body type should be equally celebrated," says Fu. "I love that the rise of niche brands means different audiences are getting their deserved platform to tell their stories. Bras are the foundation of your outfit and the most intimate garment you wear. It should make you feel amazing about yourself rather than self-conscious." (Related: You'll Love Inclusive Lingerie Brand Parfait's Latest Campaign)
Like a lot of body-positive initiatives, the public has been mostly supportive—but it has also given rise to a few haters.
"The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive from our customers," says Fu. "But, surprisingly, we have gotten some negative backlash from people who are not in this size range, who don't understand and can't empathize why a brand like this is needed. Some people question why small-chested women even need to wear bras (it's a personal choice!) and have the misguided belief that being small-chested automatically means you're skinny. If you've ever felt insecure about a part of your body or felt like you weren't enough, then you should be able to relate. I think we should lift each other up and champion our causes without invalidating the problems of others."
It's true that, objectively, small-chested women may not have the same issues that larger-chested women face when it comes to finding a proper-fitting bra: You don't need to worry as much about bouncing, back pain, or proper support, especially when it comes to sports bras. (Case in point: One in five women don't exercise because of breast pain.) However, as Fu points out, the ability to find a bra that fits—and that doesn't make you feel like your body is wrong in one way or another—is a privilege every woman should be granted.
Just read some of the reviews on Pepper's All You Bra, and you'll start to understand: "Receiving my box evoked feelings of self-love, empathy, acceptance and hope," wrote one customer. "It has been a long journey of self-love/acceptance and breaking down the barriers that are instilled in my mind. Thank you, Pepper, for being a reminder that just being me is enough."
Because our bodies are badass and feeling strong, healthy, and confident is for everyone! Help us spread the body love and be a part of our #LoveMyShape body confidence movement: Post a photo or video on social sharing why you love your shape. And check out Movemeant Foundation, our partner in empowering women and girls to be body positive.